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Court filing discloses personal relationship between Fani Willis and prosecutor hired in Trump case

ATLANTA (AP) — A court filing Friday disclosed that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is involved in a “personal relationship” with a special prosecutor she hired for the Georgia election interference case against former President Donald Trump, but she argues there are no grounds to dismiss the case or to remove her from the prosecution.

Willis hired special prosecutor Nathan Wade in November 2021 to assist her investigation into whether Trump, the Republican former president, and others broke any laws as they tried to overturn his loss in the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. Since Trump and 18 others were indicted in August, Wade has led the team of lawyers Willis assembled to prosecute the case.

Wade said in an affidavit attached to the filing that he and Willis developed a personal relationship in 2022 but there was no relationship prior to his appointment as special prosecutor. Wade said that he has no financial interest in the outcome of the case and that no money paid to him in his role as special prosecutor has been shared with Willis.

“The District Attorney received no funds or personal financial gain from my position as Special Prosecutor,” he said.

The Friday filing by Willis’ team came in response to a motion filed last month by defense attorney Ashleigh Merchant, who represents Trump co-defendant Michael Roman. The motion alleged that Willis and Wade were in an inappropriate romantic relationship that created a conflict of interest. The defense filing seeks to dismiss the case and to have Willis and Wade and their offices barred from further prosecuting the case.

Trump and at least one other co-defendant, Georgia attorney Robert Cheeley, have filed motions to join Roman’s effort to dismiss the indictment and remove Willis, a Democrat, from the case.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee, who’s presiding over the election case, has set a Feb. 15 hearing on Roman’s motion. Willis and Wade are among a dozen witnesses Merchant has subpoenaed to testify at that hearing.

Kate Brumback, The Associated Press

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